Contention, Confrontation and Derision : The Inyo County Renewable Energy General Plan Amendment (REGPA)
On March 26, 2013, our Inyo County Board of Supervisors approved the Desert Renewable Conservation Plan (DRECP) Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with California Energy Commission (CEC). This is the beginning of the current contentious, confrontational and derisive atmosphere that now exists between environmentally minded Groups/Individuals and Inyo County Planning over the REGPA. There is an explanation of how all of this has occurred the key word being “Conservation.”
In another MOU dated November 17, 2008, between the CEC ,Caifornia Fish and Wildlife, BLM, and the US Fish and Wildlife, the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) was born. ” The DRECP will Guide Solar and other RPS (Renewable Portfolio Standards, 33% Renewable’s by such and such a date) energy project siting in the DRECP Planning Area and ensure conservation of California’s Natural Resources in the Planning Area” .
In the MOU dated March 26,2013 Inyo County agreed to participate in the DRECP process.
The MOU goals (page 3) provide for the “Conservation”element. Nothing in this Goals A-K section of the MOU provides for an encouragement of Industrial Scale RE Solar development in the County. Every Goal has to do with conserving the biotic communities in the DRECP Planning Areas. The DRECP is a “conservation” preservation process to “ensure conservation of California’s Natural Resources”. So where did the wheels fall off the wagon? Where did the bus stray from the road towards the cliff? Is “conservation” not the key word in the DRECP goals and purpose?
Page 4 of the MOU contains Inyo County’s goals and policy’s for the DRECP. Where was the public process establishing these tidbits? I suggest a reading of this section of the MOU . It begins with “Inyo County historically has provided renewable energy production facilities for the benefit of California” What, other than some historic hydro electric and recent geo-thermal generation? How does that assumption overwhelm the stated and ignored Goals of the MOU ?
What a lead into Goals A-D . All of a sudden, Inyo County outside of Goals of this DRECP MOU is using the word “Encourage.” Goal a. “Encourage the sound Development of any and all energy resources____ “. Goal b. “Encourage the use off peer review science in the assessment of Impacts____ “. Goal c. “Encourage the development of adequate utility corridors_____”. Goal d. “Encourage maintaining energy opportunities___________ with a goal to ensuring that the citizens of the County benefit from renewable energy development in the County”. Goal e. deals with cooperative land disposition and acquisition, exchanges and adjustments that benefit the citizens of the County. Goal f. is about access, recreation and muti-use management .
So Inyo County is now a participant in the DRECP process. There is a Grant from the CEC to have a process to have a General Plan Amendment. The Goals of Conservation are being dragged through the muck of the Encouragement of Industrial Scale development . The Planning Department is forging ahead , they have a deadline and a rush to judgment. The idea of benefits to the Citizens of Inyo County for the generation of renewable energy for local consumption is not adequately addressed in the REGPA. There is little benefit for Inyo County that is viable in terms of green house gases when the local environment is so severely impacted that prior mitigation Projects Boundaries like the LORP and the Long Term Water Agreement are not considered and respected by Planning Department Heads and Staff . The contention of the Environmental groups and individuals is predictable and correct .
There is little foresight, little logic, little compliance with the Goals and the existence of the DRECP and the MOU being exercised in this current Planning Process. The peer review science provided by these “extreme vocal minority sage, rabbit brush lovers is being ignored , rejected and marginalized for the idea of development at any cost. Children know the song “the wheels of the Bus go round and round.” Inyo County needs to check their lug nuts and get that bus back on the path “all through the Town”. I hope our Board of Supervisors are hearing our words. I hope that they hear the facts presented, can tolerate the emotional and logical outrage of their constituents and that they send Mr. Hart and his “alternatives” back to a adequate public process and Planning drawing board even before the March 18 Board Meeting . I also suggest a larger venue for this March 18th Board Meeting.